He will face trial in federal court in Cincinnati, Ohio.
A U.S. Department of Justice statement said Xu, a deputy division director for the State Security Department of China's Jiangsu province, targeted several U.S. aerospace companies, including GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric Co (GE.N). He is accused of concealing his identity to recruit people he thought could provide the Chinese with trade secrets.
According to prosecutors in OH on Wednesday, since 2013 Xu has lured eggheads from three aerospace companies in America to China by inviting them to give university presentations in the Middle Kingdom. "In contrast, according to the indictment, a Chinese intelligence officer tried to acquire that same, hard-earned innovation through theft". He was nabbed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Belgium back in April, and extradited to the USA this week.
Only one of the companies, GE Aviation, was named by the US Justice Department. He is accused of using a false identity, recruiting an employee of GE Aviation to lecture and pass along to the Chinese aviation secrets developed by the USA aerospace manufacturer.
In fact, Beijing has targeted "aircraft and aircraft components" as one of ten tech sectors that it wishes to develop aggressively-as part of its "Made in China 2025" industrial plan to transform China into a high-tech manufacturing hub. Now, U.S. officials say, a Chinese intelligence officer has been charged with trying to steal American jet engine technology.
Sometimes operating with the help of a coconspirator inside said companies, Xu offered to meet the engineers in China as well as cover their expenses and pay for their time, it is claimed. Xu's co-conspirators told the employee that they wished the presentation to focus on highly technical information such as how a material would be applied for use in aeroengines.
Glassman spoke of "red flags" in the interactions between Xu and the employee.
After the presentation, Xu continued to try to extract critical information from the employee, including how certain research data could be applied to engine production.
The maximum penalty for conspiracy and attempt to commit economic espionage in the United States is 15 years, and it is 10 years for conspiracy and attempts to steal trade secrets.
If convicted of the four counts outlined in the indictment, Xu faces up to 25 years in prison plus financial penalties.
"This case is not an isolated incident".
A report by the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, a DNI component, made public last summer said China is engaged in aggressive cyber operations to steal valuable USA technology and economic secrets.
"We can not tolerate a nation's stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower".
Xu's case was announced just hours after FBI Director Christopher Wray said China was a greater security threat to the U.S. than Russian Federation, the latest warning about Beijing from government officials including Vice President Mike Pence, who said last week that China seeks to undermine American interests geopolitically, economically and militarily.